Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Saving Dolphins

Yesterday, I was blessed with a worthless trip down to the airport courthouse to fulfill my civic duty as a public juror. For three and an half hours they made us sit in a cold room while they explained, in the most laborious way possible, all the ways we could get out of jury duty. I learned that if you are 70 years old and just don't want to be a juror you are excused. I have to admit I'm not a fan of this cut off. How come 70 year olds are excused? All they are going to do is rush back to their recliners and scan the obituaries for their friends and sad stories. (Sorry Beba) How come 30 somethings aren't excused to go, oh I don't know, work, help the economy, produce products our society needs etc., etc.?

I also learned that being poor is not a recognized "hardship" for being excused from jury duty. Now, this attempted excuse was repeated almost ten times, which made me wonder, "Is this really the 'go to' excuse when you don't want to be a juror?" How about, "I have a heart that might stop at any moment?" Or exclaiming, "I think all murderers should be released!" Why tell the court yous poor? If anything, if you are poor you should be on jury duty because you get paid 15 dollars a day (yeah, you read that right) and the possibility of getting a free lunch.

The other strange part of the juror orientation was the fact that after spending 180 minutes explaining all the ways we could get out of jury duty they then showed us a five minute video of testimonials of how cool it is to be a juror. I really think someone in the courthouse PR department should think about the conflicting messages they are conveying - 1. Hey, get out of jury duty, everyone is doing it. (Unless you are poor) vs. 2. Jury duty is right next to saving a dolphin out of a tangled patch of seaweed. So, do it.

Lastly, I must admit, as I sat there freezing to death, I started to strangely replay Runaway Jury in my mind. All of the sudden I became a reincarnated John Cusack (minus the trench coat and boom box) and started to calculate who I would be able to manipulate into voting my way. I had pinned down about four clueless people, when a courthouse worker announced we were no longer needed.

Civic duty - check. I really think I could have owned that jury if given the chance.

1 comment:

SkippyMom said...

I had jury duty a few years ago and evidently dressing nicely got me kicked off all three days.

We had three days and three separate trials. We had to show up each day and sit through the rigamarole that you described and then be questioned. Everyday I collected my 15 dollars and was sent home.

On my third day leaving the courthouse the nice deputy at the door said "Didn't get picked again, huh." I said no and he replied "It's probably because you dress so nice." Ohhhhhhkaaaaay.

Thinking back most everyone was in blue jeans and flannels or tee shirts [pretty rural town] and those of us that had worn work/church clothes [hey! I was taught to respect court and dress nice] were sent home everyday.

So if you ever pull jury duty in Stafford, VA and want to get out of it just wear your Sunday best. ;D

I had to laugh at the "Being poor does not excuse you." People would actually use that excuse. WOW!